Usually we get in a car because we have to do something unsavory or required: food shopping, work, take a howling cat to the vet. How often do we get in a car and not know where we’re going? Never. But we did that almost everyday of the last many weeks. And it was bliss. Countless times did we remark to each other and ourselves, We are so lucky to be able to do this.
If you know Laura, you know she is a destination-oriented planner. She thinks about the dinner menu at breakfast. As a teacher, she has to think 6 weeks ahead. She worries about so many “What ifs” that it sometimes crowds out fun. Laura’s goal was easy: She wanted adventure. And she sure got it: Would living in a van be survivable? What on earth would we talk about? Can people actually make zero plans and have it work out beautifully? Yes. In spades.
Dudley’s goal was simple: live in a van.
Last night at the Brightman Flat campsite outside Dardenelle, CA, we re-read the entire blog. It was fun to read its (and our) evolution: First Dudley’s entries were rushed, then they got more descriptive, then Laura entered and we each had our own ‘take’ on the day and thus, our own separate blog entries. By the end, we wrote the blog together, morphing our individual voices into one entry.
For the last 3-5 weeks, we took showers outside. We peed outside. We slept in a van. We wore the same clothes for days on end. We watched birds, turkeys, deer, free range cattle, road runners, and turtles. We drove, stopped, ate, and slept where and when we wanted. We cherish the benefits of home: our beloved cat, our friends, family, and neighbors, and a variety of food. It is nice to be home, but we are just a little bit weepy for life on the road.
Thank you for tuning into the blog for the last 5 weeks. If you want to find us, we’ll be at home.
This is the fun.
(See below for the non-sentimental segment of The Last Blog. Spoiler: It’s the seedy underbelly of living in a van and traveling 9000 miles with one other person.)
Before Laura left to meet Dudley in New York, our friend Michaela suggested we keep a “shadow blog,” informational bits that might reflect the unseemly side of traveling 9000 miles with one person in a van.
1. We overpacked clothes and underpacked underpants. (thank you to Aunt Ann, Laura/James and Deborah/Mike for well-timed stops at your laundry machines! Send us your water bill!)
2. Dudley lying about the current time so Laura would get up so we could hit the road. Most egregious lie: 6:25am when it was really 5:45.
3. Dudley sitting at the campsite outside Durango streaming a game of the Stanley Cup playoffs because he had an actual chance to win The Monkey Cup this year. Laura was horrified: Dudley in the dark staring at a iPad at a campground. Really? (The MC is a hyper-competitive competition in which, for the last 20 years, the same hockey-obsessed friends bet on which team will win the National Hockey League’s holy grail of the Stanley Cup. Dudley last won 10 years ago.)
4. “That IS a tick.” Dudley had to remove a tick obtained in NC.
5. Laura DID get poison ivy through 2 states. Can’t tell you how many CVS drug stores we went to.
6. In CO, we visited the mountain cabin of friends and one of the other revelers had seen the Partridge van parked in a turn out as he drove up the steep, 4X4-required road. Upon learning it was our colorful van, he said, “Thought it was the Reading Rainbow rape van.”
7. “I hate Utah.” –Laura’s comment after a sleepless night in windy, hot Moab. Most miserable state in the union. She was bitter. Later Utah was redeemed.
8. Laura and Dudley plan to rise early to hike in New Mexico’s Rio Grande Gorge. Laura is concerned about the hours of operation. Dudley, exasperated, says, “Of course it’s open; it’s a hole in the ground.”
9. Dudley and his slight OCD moving the van 7 times to get it parked ‘just right’ in the campsite.
10. Upon arriving at Capitol Reef NP, Laura asks the visitor center ranger, “Is it always this windy?” “No,” she says, “but it drives away the biting gnats.” (See #7)
11. Laura drove the van twice in 3 weeks and 9000 miles, for a grand total of 30.5 minutes: Once for 30 minutes in NC when she needed to find cell reception and Dudley had had too many beers. The second was in California when she got to back up the van 15 feet so Dudley could get a good picture.
12. We essentially ate 3 things: 1. peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday. For breakfast. 2. For dinner, there was spaghetti with sauce or taco flaps (tortilla with cheese, tomato, black beans and avocado) everyday. and, 3. mid-day snacks and appetizers: salted in-the-shell peanuts, almonds, raisins, and hummus and crackers. Every once in a while, we threw in an orange or apple. The van has a layer of peanut shells, skins and salty dust everywhere.